Even today, paints made with lead are still used in many residential and commercial buildings. In the United States, approximately 11 million homes or apartments had a lead paint disclosure made on their doors and windows between 1979 and 2001. According to the CDC, before the 1990s, most people knew nothing about the dangers of lead exposure.
A lead paint disclosure can help identify the presence of lead dust or chips in a home. Lead dust or chips can pose a health risk to anyone who spends time in the home, especially children under six years old.
What is a lead paint disclosure?
A lead paint disclosure is a form that landlords or homeowners must provide to potential buyers or tenants when applying for or renting out residential properties built before 1978. The form describes how often children are likely to be exposed to lead-based paint and must show that the risk of injury is small enough not to warrant additional precautions such as those included in an adult-safe environment disclosure statement. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lead-based paint in 1977, so these properties are common today only if they were built before this time.
The Lead Paint Disclosure Rules
- They must provide written notice of lead paint hazards to prospective buyers, tenants, and their agents. The notice must be provided in an accessible format (i.e., Braille or large print) that is specific to the type of property being sold or leased, including any condition or restriction on occupancy or use of the premises and any other relevant information.
- They must conduct a health inspection of units by certified environmental health specialists to determine if lead-based paint hazards are present. If so, they must provide written notification to all affected individuals (e.g., prospective renters).
- They must promptly provide copies of all notifications sent to affected individuals (within 90 days of receiving them), along with any corrective measures implemented by the owner/seller/landlord that has eliminated the identified hazard(s).
- They must ensure that sellers complete all disclosures before signing a contract for sale or lease and provide each party with copies for its records. The landlord must keep records of the information provided on the lead paint disclosure form for five years from when it was issued.
Lead paint disclosure guidelines for sellers and lessors
As a landlord with a property built before 1978, you are responsible for disclosing information regarding the presence of lead paint to potential tenants. The most recent laws require landlords to disclose the use of lead paint in the home through a federal lead disclosure form and take actions such as performing inspections on their property when necessary. Most states also have similar regulations for landlords.
1. A copy of the current EPA Lead Disclosure Form (form EPA-854)
2. A copy of the “lead hazard information” brochure published by the EPA (available at www.epa.gov/lead)
3. An explanation of how tenants can obtain more information about lead hazards in their homes if they want to do their own home inspection (e.g., contact an environmental professional or city department).
4. The name and address of the owner or manager of the property.
5. The physical address of the property.
6. A statement that lead-based paint was used in residential buildings on site prior to 1978 and is not being used.
7. A statement that tenants are not required to do any lead hazard evaluation or remediation work unless they obtain a waiver from their landlord.
Lead paint disclosure requirements and exemptions
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, here are the steps landlords must take as a landlord to ensure they comply with the law:
1. Inspect for lead-based paint hazards on all interior surfaces and exterior surfaces of your rental properties within 30 days of acquiring it. If you discover any conditions that pose health risks or material damage, you should immediately notify your local health department.
2. When inspecting a property, you should use a certified inspector who is trained in lead-based paint inspection methods, who has no financial ties to either you or the seller, and who knows how to properly evaluate potential hazards related to lead poisoning without causing more harm than good by removing potential sources of contamination such as peeling paint or deteriorated chimneys where children may play in order to avoid lead dust exposure.
3. If your inspection reveals any conditions that pose health risks or material damage from lead poisoning, then you must follow up by sending one certified letter within 30 days after discovering those conditions.
Issuing a Lead-Paint Disclosure
The National Lead Information Center (NLIC) explains, “The law requires sellers of housing built before 1978 to provide prospective buyers with information about lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards that may exist in the property.”
The law also states that the seller will not be required to obtain any certification or training in order to comply with this requirement. However, they need to understand their responsibilities as well as their rights under this program.
The program’s purpose is to protect buyers from exposure to lead dust and paint chips, which can cause health problems in children.
Buyers must be told if a house was built before 1978, even if they’re not buying the home to live in it. Homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead paint on them, but there’s no way to know for sure without testing. The disclosure form includes a list of possible sources of lead in your house, such as:
- Leaded gasoline
- Lead-painted toys and furniture.
- Lead-glazed pottery and ceramics
- Leaded crystal glassware
Your state may have additional laws about disclosures about lead hazards in your home or apartment. Check with your local housing department and urban development office for more information about requirements where you live.